Barrier of a Common Language

An American Looks at Contemporary British Poetry
Dana Gioia
The latest offering in the Poets on Poetry series from the acclaimed poet, critic, and current chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts


The latest offering in the Poets on Poetry series from acclaimed poet, critic, and National Endowment for the Arts' chairman Dana Gioia, Barrier of a Common Language collects essays on British poets and poetry spanning the past two decades.

Gioia ignited a national debate on the relevance of poetry in 1991 when he published an essay in the Atlantic titled "Can Poetry Matter?" The essay was expanded into a book of the same name and went on to become one of the best-selling books of contemporary poetry criticism in the 1990s.

In Barrier of a Common Language Gioia addresses the current disconnect between British and American poetry, the result of America's growing postwar self-sufficiency in its intellectual concerns and concomitant patronizing attitude toward Britain. Writes Gioia, "Today . . . most American readers are not only unfamiliar with current British poetry, but modestly proud of the fact. They do not dissemble, but urbanely flourish their ignorance as an indisputable sign of discrimination."

Whether British poetry ever regains the importance in Anglo-American literary traditions it had fifty years ago, Gioia believes, will depend on the quality of service it receives from critics, poets, editors, and anthologists who alone can make it accurately heard and understood.

Poet, critic, and acclaimed author of Can Poetry Matter? Dana Gioia is one of America's leading contemporary men of letters. Winner of the American Book Award, Gioia is internationally recognized for his role in reviving rhyme, meter, and narrative in contemporary poetry.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . insightful and informative essays on British poets and poetry over the past two decades. A scholarly compilation of such varied topics as the growing disconnect between British and American poetry; fading traditions in poetic literature; and in-depth analysis of modern works, fill the pages of this astute and superbly presented anthology of criticism. . . . [A] welcome and seminal contribution to academic library British Literature & Poetry reference collections and reading lists."
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Copyright © 2003, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 5-3/8 x 8.
  • 108pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2003
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06582-0

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  • $20.95 U.S.